News Archive

Dr. Balog gives an IEEE PELS Distinguished Lecture as part of the “Power August Seminar Series” of the IEEE Taipei Section joint PELS/PES/IES Chapter.

As part of the IEEE Power Electronics Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Balog, REAPERlab Director, gave a distinguished lecture on August 11, 2021 entitled “A Smart PV Roof Tile and Non-Planar Photovoltaic Systems” to the IEEE Taipei Section PELS/PES/IES joint chapter.

With the latest advances in photovoltaic material science technology, solar cells can now be curved, conformal coated, and even painted onto arbitrary surface geometries. This facilitates a paradigm shift from the traditional, building-applied, rigid planar modules to non-planar, structurally-integrated photovoltaic systems. PV arrays on curved surfaces enable new concepts for PV applications but also present new challenges for balance-of-system components, electrical interconnections, and power conditioning electronics. Non-uniform insolation across the PV surface complicates maximum power point tracking, which is well-known for planar PV but more complicated when the non-planar morphology inherently introduce the partial shading and thermal variations. Yet, these non-planar surfaces offer opportunities to increase energy harvest and shape the time-of-day generation profile, all while creating an architecturally appealing – even invisible – energy system. This talk will include results from a recent research project which investigated a smart solar roof tile in the form-factor of the traditional terracotta roof tile.

Dr. Balog thanks Prof. Dr. Katherine Kim of National Taiwan University for the invitation to present.

The REAPER lab congratulates undergraduate students Ms. Leen Al Homoud, Mr. Safin Bayes, and Mr. Rinith Reghunath on their graduation from Texas A&M University in Qatar.

The REAPERlab congratulates undergraduate students Ms. Leen Al Homoud, Mr. Safin Bayes, and Mr. Rinith Reghunath on their graduation with their B.S. in electrical engineering. As a team, they have been part of the REAPER lab over the last year and conducted innovative research into cyber-physical security for electrical power distribution systems by applying machine learning techniques to identify authenticated but malicious control commands. Such a scenario may exist if an attacker gains access to the control systems so that they appear to be authenticated, spoofing as a bona fide agent in the system. Such an attack vector would be undetectable with traditional cyber-security authentication methods. The students have submitted their research results for publication. The REAPERlab wishes them good luck as they start a new chapter in their professional lives.

Dr. Balog gives an distinguished keynote address to the IEEE 8th International Conference on Electrical and Electronics Engineering (ICEEE 2021).

As part of the IEEE Power Electronics Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Balog, REAPERlab Director, gave a distinguished keynote presentation on April 9, 2021 entitled “A Smart PV Roof Tile and Non-Planar Photovoltaic Systems” to the IEEE 8th International Conference on Electrical and Electronics Engineering (ICEEE 2021). With the latest advances in photovoltaic material science technology, solar cells can now be curved, conformal coated, and even painted onto arbitrary surface geometries. This facilitates a paradigm shift from the traditional, building-applied, rigid planar modules to non-planar, structurally-integrated photovoltaic systems. PV arrays on curved surfaces enable new concepts for PV applications but also present new challenges for balance-of-system components, electrical interconnections, and power conditioning electronics. Non-uniform insolation across the PV surface complicates maximum power point tracking, which is well-known for planar PV but more complicated when the non-planar morphology inherently introduce the partial shading and thermal variations. Yet, these non-planar surfaces offer opportunities to increase energy harvest and shape the time-of-day generation profile, all while creating an architecturally appealing – even invisible – energy system. This talk presented results from a recent collaboration between Texas A&M University and the Middle East Technical University to develop a smart solar roof tile in the form-factor of the traditional terracotta roof tile.

Dr. Balog wishes to thank Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ali Ozcelik, Chair of the IEEE PELS Turkey Chapter for the invitation to present at the conference.

Dr. Balog gives an IEEE Power Electronics Society Distinguished Lecture to the Buffalo Section.

As part of the IEEE Power Electronics Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Balog, REAPERlab Director, gave a talk on March 27, 2021 to the IEEE Buffalo Section and Power and Energy Society entitled “Challenges and Opportunities in the Balance of Systems for Photovoltaic Energy.” For years photovoltaic systems were all about the cells – specifically their cost and efficiency. It can be said that today’s cells are good enough and cheap enough. This talk examines the other costs and performance issues in photovoltaic systems – the so called balance of systems – to explore other technologies and considerations.

Dr. Balog wishes to thank Mr. Steven Rhoads, Chair of the IEEE PES Buffalo Section for organizing and “virtually” hosting the lecture.

Dr. Wesam Rohouma is elevated to Senior Member of the IEEE.

Congratulations to Dr. Wesam Rohouma for being selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for elevation to Senior Member. This elevation is professional recognition by his peers for his technical and professional excellence. In the REAPERlab, we agree! Dr. Rohouma has been a key contributor not only on his own research but also as a mentor to other. Congratulations and best wishes for a continued, successful, career.

Fatima Al-Janahi honored at the 14th Annual Education Excellence Day ceremony.

The REAPERlab congratulates Fatima Al-Janahi for receiving the Education Excellence Award. Ms. Al-Janahi was honored, in part, for her undergraduate research project on Characterizing Photovoltaic System Arc-Faults, which was supported by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) through the Undergraduate Research Experience Program Grant  UREP24-023-010. During the award ceremony, held March 1, 2021, Ms. Fatima was presented the award by His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The Education Excellence Day (EED) Award is an award in which outstanding Qatari individuals are honored in various fields to promote a culture of creativity and excellence among the Qatari society, push students to more excellence and outstanding educational attainment, and promote integration between individual and institutional efforts to improve educational outputs and bring them to global standards.

Dr. Balog gives an IEEE Power Electronics Society Distinguished Lecture to the Pittsburgh Chapter.

As part of the IEEE Power Electronics Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Balog, REAPERlab Director, gave a talk to the Pittsburgh chapter entitled “Power Compensation in the Electrical Distribution System using a D-STATCOM.” The talk explored a solid-state power conditioner that can compensate reactive and harmonic power at or near the source before it flows upstream to the substation. As a fully controllable device, it can be deployed and dispatched as needed in the network.

Dr. Balog wishes to thank Dr. Hashim Al Hassan, Chair of the IEEE Power Electronics Society Pittsburgh Chapter for organizing and “virtually” hosting the lecture.

Dr. Morcos Metry presents a research paper at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology (PVCON).

Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Morcos Metry and Ph.D. students Ms. Sawsan Shukri and Mr. Lance Alpuerto presented their paper entitled “Sizing of Differential Power Processing Converters Based on In-Situ Meteorological Data for Non-Planar Photovoltaic Applications” at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology. The workshop, which was held virtually 30 November through 2 December 2020, was originally scheduled to be in-person in Ankara, TURKEY.

The paper develops a framework for designing power electronics converters for non-planar photovoltaic (PV) structures. The paper looks into the morphology of the PV structure, in-situ meteorological data, and models of current mismatch between neighboring PVs. The benefit of this study is the design of power electronics for non-planar PV that are both reliable and cost-effective.

This publication is based on research supported by the US Army Research Laboratory through the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics (IIP-1624539). This publication was also made possible in part by PDRA grant # 5-0422-19004 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of the Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Safin Bayes presents a research paper at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology (PVCON).

Undergraduate research assistant Mr. Safin H. Bayes and Ph.D. student Sawsan Shukri presented their paper entitled “Low Cost, Stand-Alone, In-situ, PV Curve Tracer” at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology. The workshop, which was held virtually 30 November through 2 December 2020, was originally scheduled to be in-person in Ankara, TURKEY.

The paper aims to reduce the cost of a flexible and scalable i-v curve tracer that was developed previously in the REAPERLab. The system includes three main components: a source measuring unit, multiple relay boards, and a raspberry pi. The system enables four modes of operation: F1 is used to test individual PV modules, while F2 is used to perform a time-sequence test of the PV modules. F3 is used to test the interconnection of PV modules, and F4 is used to run a time-sequenced test of PV interconnections.

Dr. Wesam Rohouma presents a research paper at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology (PVCON).

Dr. Wesam Rohouma, Professor Robert S. Balog, Ph.D. student Mr. Aaqib Peerzada and Professor Miroslav Begovic presented their paper entitled “Voltage Profile Enhancement Using Capacitor-less D-STATCOM to Increase PV Penetration in Distribution Network Under Transient Cloud Conditions” at the 2nd International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technology. The workshop, which was held virtually 30 November through 2 December 2020, was originally scheduled to be in-person in Ankara, TURKEY.

While the grid-connected PV systems deliver electric energy closer to the consumer, thus aiding the paradigm shift from a centralized to distributed generation, the stochastic nature of PV output has created new challenges in the operation and maintenance of electric distribution systems. Reactive power compensation can be used to keep the voltage profile on the network within the allowable limits set by the relevant standards. A capacitor-less approach is used in this paper instead of the traditional techniques that are based on electrolytic capacitor banks with well-known failure rates.

In this paper, a capacitor-less distribution static synchronous compensator (D-STATCOM) based matrix converter (MC) is proposed for use in low voltage distribution network. This technology is controlled using finite-set model predictive control, the compensator device can operate in a variety of modes and can be deployed and dispatched as needed in the distribution system. Experimental results show the effectiveness of the proposed technology in improving voltage profile in the low voltage distribution networks during cloud cover. 

This publication was made possible by NPRP grant # 9-204-2-103 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of the Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors. The authors acknowledge and thank Prof. Pat Wheeler and Prof. Lee Empringham from the power electronics and machine control group at the University of Nottingham, UK, for their collaboration on the matrix converter prototype design and fabrication.

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